I make a confession here and now to those who routinely drink champagne for breakfast and eat oysters the way I eat peanut M&Ms. Until recently, I had never quite worked out the whole lounge phenomenon. I always wondered if it involved paying a cushy premium to sit on sofas with marginally superior upholstery whilst some semi-stale crisps and crunchy apples hung around in dated bowls on the periphery. And then there was the incident where Pumpkin mistakenly thought he could share his brother’s airport lounge access pass at Sao Paolo airport…the less said about it the better…
The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
As it turns out, it seems assumptions could be my downfall in life. When I made my reservation at the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal Hotel, they proposed a club lounge level room and for the first time, I willed myself to suppress that part of me that has to weigh everything up ad infinitum and accepted.And thus, I found myself in Abu Dhabi on the 7th floor club lounge at the Ritz Carlton, a hotel that directly faces and lends impressive views of the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (stay tuned for more on that iconic monument coming up soon on the blog). Having spent a couple of nights in Abu Dhabi’s busy Corniche area, studded with skyscrapers and high-rise hotels, I was keen to explore a hotel with a different feel for our final night, somewhere more resort-like and exclusive and the Ritz Carlton fitted the bill perfectly. There was an obvious Venetian influence to the elegant decor throughout the hotel grounds, aided by its canal-side location.
Darkness set in around 7pm and that was when I felt the greatest affinity to this glamorous hotel, to its floodlit arc of buildings that line the pool whilst the waters shimmer with the reflection of alternating colours.
They ensure exclusivity to the Club Lounge by enabling access only via key card in the lift and all club rooms lie within a separate building. As newbies to the club lounge concept, the fact that it has its own private concierge completely escaped us on arrival until the friendly member of staff told us at general check in. (Fortunately, I have far more embarrassing tales from my travels to let this faze me!)
Amenities & Food at the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Club Lounge
The lounge is open for dining between 6.30 am – 10pm serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner but for those with the midnight munchies, tea, coffee and cookies are available round the clock (don’t miss the chocolate mint ones).
I particularly enjoyed the fabulous selection of salads and dips especially the baba ghanoush with pomegranate and the beetroot mousse that I stacked onto my plate. I’m no fashion blogger but I can confidently declare that pink teeth are not a good look on anyone!
The meals had a greater choice of cold dishes than hot but I was impressed by the variety on offer and the way the choices differed daily. And with such an abundance of fruit and vegetables, this was the healthiest dining I have ever consumed in a hotel…though it would be rude not to enjoy a few of the mini cakes right?!And given that the temperature was around 33 degrees Celsius at 11.30pm, we cooled off at Dolce, the hotel’s dessert cafe, for late night ice cream. Always one to try local flavours, my preferred scoop was Halva, a Middle Eastern dessert made of nuts and sesame.
We didn’t get a chance to sample the range of internationally inspired restaurants at the hotel, as there is only so much eating one can do with a one night stay, especially with all the food served in the lounge!
Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel but worked best in our rooms and in the lounge, which also has two desktop computers with printers but strangely, we found the internet connection to be much faster on one than the other.It was the top to toe glass walls of lounge that caught my eye the most with striking views across the resort, especially at night and lounge staff treated us the way our relatives do – constantly offering us food and drink and making sure we were well fed and the lounge was a haven of cool and quiet when we needed to escape the midday sun.
First impressions of the hotel and the “date man”
There is a glitz, glamour and Italian elegance palpable from the moment you walk into the Ritz Carlton’s long lobby with multiple chandeliers dispersing bright light across large fresh flower arrangements.
They even had a coffee and “date man”. No wordplay intended – quite literally a member of staff each day manning a stall of Arabic coffee and self-serve stuffed dates, which put an enormous smile on my face. They remind me of my childhood.
The hotel provide twice hourly shuttle buses to the Grand Mosque. It is reachable by foot if you can brave the temperatures and operates on a first come first serve basis but everywhere you look in this hotel, whether it is poolside, at the front door or inside the lobby, there are members of staff on standby offering to help visitors and we found the staff to be thoroughly professional and helpful.
Club Level Rooms at Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi
I wasn’t planning to do much swimming in Abu Dhabi as we were headed to the Seychelles next but then I saw the view from our room, which rapidly changed things!
It isn’t very often that I get swept into the web of charm spun by a hotel but there is an opulence and comfort here that leaves you wanting more so if you are going to splurge on somewhere as luxurious as this, don’t make the same mistake we did and stay for a bit longer!
Disclaimer: We paid discounted press rates for the club lounge room at the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal but I remain an opinionated little lady and all views are entirely my own.